CalArts Oral History Interviews:Benedetti, Robert

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Robert Benedetti

Dean, School of Theater: 1973 - 1981
Faculty, School of Theater & School of Film/Video 1981 - 2001


A distinguished teacher of theatre, and three-time Emmy and Peabody Award-winning film producer, Robert Benedetti received his PhD from Northwestern University. After serving as Artistic Director of the Court Theatre in Chicago, he was an early member of Chicago’s Second City Theatre, and then taught for fifty years at the University of Wisconsin, Carnegie-Mellon University, The National Theatre School of Canada, and the University of California, Riverside.

He was Chairman of Theatre at York University in Toronto, Chairman of the Acting Program at the Yale Drama School, and for eight years Dean of Theatre at The California Institute of the Arts. He was until 2011 a tenured Full Professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and Artistic Director of the Nevada Conservatory Theatre.

Benedetti has directed at many regional theatres, including the Tyrone Guthrie Theatre, Australia’s Melbourne Theatre Company, the Milwaukee, South Coast, and San Diego Repertory Theatres, the Oregon, Colorado, and Great Lakes Shakespeare festivals, and many others.

He has also worked in the art museum field, recreating the 1913 Futurist Opera VICTORY OVER THE SUN by Kasimir Malevich for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and has also created shows on German Expressionism and Russian Agitprop. His productions have appeared at the Berlin Festival, the Demeervart in Amsterdam, the Hirschhorn Museum at the Smithsonian, and the Brooklyn Academy. His films are in the permanent collection of MoMA and many other museums and university art departments.

He served as an advisor to the U. S. Department of Education and as a Fulbright Panelist.

As President of Ted Danson’s Anasazi Productions at Paramount Studios, and later as an independent screenwriter/producer, he won three Best Picture Emmys, two Humanitas Prizes, and a Peabody Award for producing Miss Evers’ Boys and A Lesson Before Dying for HBO, and six other films. He most recently completed a screenplay for HBO on the 1885 Chicago Haymarket bombing.

Benedetti has also written six books on acting and film production, including The Actor At Work 10th edition, The Actor in You, 5th edition (recently translated into Danish), ACTION! Acting for Film and Television, and From Concept to Screen, an Overview of Film and TV production (recently published in Chinese.)

In 2005 he received the Lifetime Career Achievement Award from the Association for Theatre in Higher Education. In 2012 he was inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Theatre at the Kennedy Center. He and his wife collect Folk and Fine Art. 

Interviewer: Paul Cronin

Interview Date & Length: 

March 25, 2015: 3 Parts

  • Part 1: 1 hr. 42 min.
  • Part 2: 30 min.
  • Part 3: 1 hr. 

Formats available:

Audio MP3


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